During her college years Sara began taking steps to shape the way she thought and how she approached both challenges and failures
Planning on entering the legal field like her father, after high school Sara Blakely enrolled at the University of Florida in Gainesville where she would study communications. During her second year at the university Sara had the opportunity to live and study in London for a period of time, as part of the school’s student abroad program.
Many lifelong friends and even business partners meet and form relationships in college. While studying in London Sara would meet two people who would become her closest friends and remain so until this day.
However, after two years at the University of Florida, Sara transferred to Florida State University where she would finish up her Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Communications. As a student Sara was a proud member of the Delta Delta Delta Sorority.
Being a communications major it was natural for Sara to be on the debate team. Sara served on the debate team in both high school and college, where she would further hone her communication skills. Skills that undoubtedly helped her later in life as she began developing the SPANX product and building the business to the $ billion level where it is today.
It was also during her college years that Sara Blakely began taking steps to shape the way she thought, how she looked at life, and how she approached both challenges and failures. During college Sara Blakely began listening to motivational tapes. One of her all-time favorite motivational speakers was Wayne Dyer and a series of tapes entitled How to Be a No-Limit Person. Today Sara unabashedly credits Mr. Dyer and this early series of motivational talks for being responsible for most of her success in life, including the founding of SPANX and building it into a $ billion business.
As a result of listening to the tape series by Mr. Dyer, Sara Blakely began to do something else in college that would have a profound effect on the growth of SPANX a number of years later. Even in college Sara began visualizing herself sitting on Oprah Winfrey’s couch (as a guest on her show) as a highly successful individual, though she was not yet certain about where her success would come from.
One could consider an event in 2000 as testimony to the power of visualization. In 2000 Oprah christened SPANX as one of her “Favorite Things” of the year. Sara credits this endorsement from Oprah as a turning point in her business and the point at which sales really took off.
Sara Blakely Failure is Part of Success
Upon entering college Sara had plans to enter the legal profession and follow in her father’s footsteps. When she was younger she would often go into the court room and watch her father as he delivered his closing arguments.
But when it was time for Sara to take the LSAT’s she failed. Not once but twice. Sara’s foray into the legal profession was not to be. But this failure undoubtedly set her up for a much bigger success a few years down the road when she would enter the world of inventing, patents and entrepreneurship.
But there may have been another reason why Sara’s failure to pass the LSAT’s did not have a dramatically negative affect on her future success; in all likelihood it had to do with what she had been taught as a child about failure. It had been drilled into Sara Blakely’s mind by her father that if you wanted to succeed in life in a big way, you would experience failure. Sara’s father taught her that there was no success without some failure.
The Lucky Red Backpack- from college
There is another piece of the success puzzle that harkens back to Sara’s college days in Florida; the Lucky Red Backpack. All through college Sara carried the same red backpack which she came to consider as her lucky backpack.
In the very early days of building her SPANX business Sara was getting a lot of no’s. Before she made her now famous presentation to Neiman Marcus, she went to her mother’s house and dug her old college backpack out of her mother’s attic. Sara had faith that the old lucky backpack would change the path for her startup company.
Sara carried her lucky red backpack the first meeting with the Neiman Marcus buyer. In fact she used the red backpack as her presentation bag. The presentation was a success and SPANX was soon on the shelves of Neiman Marcus.
Today, every woman who receives business or college help from the Sara Blakely Foundation receives a lucky red backpack as well which they understand is a symbol of the potential each individual has to succeed.
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